Saturday, March 19, 2011

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U.S. offers to evacuate family members from Tokyo

Top story: The U.S. governmentoffered to evacuate family members of State Department and Defense Department officials serving in north Japan as the nuclear crisis in the country risked spiraling out of control. The U.S. embassy in Tokyo will remain open, however, as U.S. officials supported the Japanese government's assertion that the city was still unaffected by the radiation released from the stricken nuclear power plant.
Nevertheless, there were growing signs that the United States believes the crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi plant is more severe than the Japanese government. The chairman of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission gave Congressional testimony on Wednesdayasserting that all the water was gone from one of the reactor's fuel pools. If true, that would dramatically increase the amount of radiation released into the air. Japanese officials, however, denied that all the water had evaporated from the pool.
As radiation levels at the plant spiked again, U.S. officials released a statement that urged Americans who live within 50 miles of the facility to evacuate from the area. That recommendation clashed with Japan's official warnings, which have only called for a 12.5-mile evacuation zone around the plant.
Meanwhile, workers efforts' to stabilize the plant became increasingly desperate. Amilitary helicopter made four passes over two of the most unstable reactors, dropping seawater on them each time. Japanese police also prepared to use water cannons to spray the reactors from outside. A power line to bring the reactor's cooling system back online was also nearing completion, and will be tested "as soon as possible."
Radiation fears grow in China: A Chinese government official pressed Japan to release details of its nuclear crisis in a timely manner as Chinese civilians searched for measures to protect them from radiation.